Trey Nelson now has a ride.
His Ford Explorer is bad news for those looking for an excuse not to attend football practice at Whale Branch Early College High School. Nelson, the Warriors' senior linebacker and running back, fits up to six players in his vehicle to ensure his teammates are all on the same level.
"The more people at practice, the better the team will be," said Nelson, who skipped an annual family reunion this summer to spend more time in the weight room.
The Warriors are committed to doing things the way first-year coach Jerry Hatcher wants. And that means adhering to the details maybe moreso than grand schematic changes.
At a home scrimmage this past week, Hatcher paced the Warriors' half of the field during warm-ups, asking players if their shoulder pads were covered and mouthpieces in place. On defense, it's fundamentals, like how to take on a block. And offensively, Hatcher wants the Warriors to execute a run between the tackles before chucking the ball downfield.
"He's all about the little things it takes to win the ball game," quarterback Brandon Morton said. "He's just trying to get us disciplined so we're disciplined in the game."
Hatcher thinks the Warriors are catching on.
After a pair of lackluster scrimmages, Whale Branch players did little but hit at the next day's practice, at one point busting through 18 consecutive minutes of hit drills.
The following night, this past Friday at the region jamboree, the Warriors played the best they have during the preseason, Hatcher said.
"You've just got to teach the kids how to be physical," Hatcher said. "It's not natural to do that. We're totally changing the style of play. We're going from a finesse team to a physical team."
The finesse of this past season was a response to the Warriors' personnel. The lightning combo of Andre Watson and Josh Fields allowed Whale Branch to get to the edge often.
With those two graduated, Hatcher wants to move the ball on the ground and use the Warriors' talented receivers as a changeup.
"We're trying to be hammers this year," said Morton, who threw for 1,218 and 17 touchdowns as a junior.
When the Warriors do go to the air, Dee Delaney will be the primary target. He is the only Whale Branch returner with a touchdown catch last season. At 6-foot barefoot and with the quickness to create excitement after the catch, the senior already has multiple offers to play college football.
First, he'll anchor a group of receivers that includes newcomers Devonte Glover and Charles Jiles -- "Speedsters," Morton said.
"We've got some targets here, and we've got a quarterback I think can get the ball in their hand," Hatcher said. "Until we can establish on the ground, they're just going to pin their ears back and come. We want to try and be balanced."
The Warriors are trying to reach the Class 1-A playoffs for a third consecutive season. After losing in the first round the previous two years, Nelson said goals have changed.
"Whatever new schemes he's got going on, we're going to follow it full force," Nelson said. "We're not going to be one and done again."
Everybody on board.
Stadium: Warriors Field
Region: Region 5-A
Coach (years at school): Jerry Hatcher (First year)
2011 results: 7-4, Lost 60-40 to Scott's Branch in the first round of the Class 1-A playoffs
Key losses: RB Josh Fields, WR Andre Watson, QB Stemon James, LB/RB Andrew Byam
Top returning starters: WR/DB Dee Delaney, LB/RB Trey Nelson, QB Brandon Morton
Key newcomers: WR/DB Terel Hazel
Date Opponent W/L Score
Aug. 19 at Baptist Hill W 29-19
Aug. 25 HUNTER-KINARD-TYLER W 48-12
Sept. 2 at Military Magnet W 50-14
Sept. 16 at Hardeeville W 18-16
Sept. 23 at Allendale-Fairfax W Forfeit
Sept. 30 RIDGELAND L 42-18
Oct. 7 at Branchville W 20-0
Oct. 14 ESTILL L 32-27
Oct. 21 BETHUNE-BOWMAN W 45-0
Oct. 28 BAMBERG-EHRHARDT L 49-18
NOV. 4 SCOTT'S BRANCH
HOME GAMES in CAPS *Playoff game
Note: All games start at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 at Bluffton
Aug. 24 at Hilton Head High
Aug. 31 BATTERY CREEK
Sept. 14 at Denmark-Olar*
Sept. 21 at Estill
Sept. 28 RIDGELAND-HARDEEVILLE*
Oct. 5 at Bethune-Bowman*
Oct. 12 BRANCHVILLE*
Oct. 19 ST. JOHN'S
Oct. 26 ALLENDALE-FAIRFAX*
HOME GAME in CAPS *Region opponent
Players to watch
Offense: Dee Delaney, WR
The senior Delaney has already received offers from Georgia State and Newberry and is hoping to hear the same from Furman soon. He has the size to pull down passes in traffic and the quickness to create more yards after the catch. With the Warriors emphasizing the running game, Delaney will help keep defenses honest.
Defense: Trey Nelson, LB
A veteran of each of the Warriors' first two seasons, Nelson will now take his turn as senior leader. Nelson was the Warriors' top tackler in 2011 and skipped a family reunion to spend more time in the weight room this summer. A composed player with a sparkling grade point average, Nelson should help the Warriors grasp coach Jerry Hatcher's schemes.
Three keys to the season
2012 Roster (in numerical order)
No. Name Position Height Weight Class
1 Devonte Glover QB/WR 6-1 170 Soph.
3 Devonta Delaney WR/DB 6-0 175 Sr.
4 Chavone Simmons WR/DB 6-0 150 Sr.
6 Michael Smalls DB 5-8 145 Sr.
8 Terel Hazel WR/DB 5-9 170 Sr.
9 Trey Nelson LB 6-0 200 Sr.
11 Brandon Morton QB 5-10 175 Sr.
12 Darrien Brown QB/DB 5-11 165 Soph.
10 Michael Dantzler RB/LB 5-10 170 Jr.
23 Emanuel Wright LB 5-10 175 Sr.
24 Braxton Bowers RB 5-8 155 Soph.
25 Mark Rivers RB/LB 5-9 165 Sr.
27 Tyion Brunson RB 5-11 175 Jr.
39 Harold Lawrence LB 5-10 165 Sr.
40 Stephon Eugene RB 5-8 170 Fr.
43 Nyle Pinckney OL/DL 6-1 245 Fr.
42 Malik Brown RB 5-10 170 Fr.
45 Nathan Guersney LB 5-11 175 Soph.
50 Javonta Delaney OL/DL 5-11 235 Sr.
51 J'son Campbell OL/DL 5-9 240 Jr.
54 Eligah Green OL/DL 6-0 175 Fr.
55 Travon McKee OL/DL 5-11 225 Sr.
56 Howard Allen OL/DL 6-0 175 Sr.
71 Casser Middleton OL/DL 5-10 230 Jr.
72 P.M. Israel OL/DL 5-10 210 Jr.
73 Max Ford OL/DL 6-0 270 Jr.
81 Treyvon Bryan TE 6-1 210 Soph.
82 Mark Hatcher TE 6-0 170 Soph.